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UPK Program Overview


ECEA is advocating for Parent choice in the Colorado UPK program!  We believe that an algorithm should not determine where your child is placed in preschool....only you should be able to make that decision!!  CCCAP is the state mechanism that supports equity and inclusion in our state....why are we creating more mechanisms that take decision making away from families???
9/21/23 - As of yesterday, CDEC is stating their intent to make small fixes to the matching system.  Statute requires one entry/access point, it does NOT require an algorithm.  Parents can use the system to identify who has spaces available around them and then directly enroll in the program of their choice.  The algorithm needs to go away.   How would you feel if the state said, pick 5 doctors and we will assign you to one?  Why is that ok for families with UPK?  Spread the word!
                                      (hashtag pending)

You can decrease your numbers if no one is enrolled in that seat.  If there is a no show, notify your LCO, then tell them whether you want to keep the seat or move it to private pay.

If this impacts YOU, email us at to let us know what that means for you and your program!

How Much Does UPK Pay
How Do We Charge for UPK/Child Care Services?

Payment is based on the following number of hours.  Please note the range of hours for services.  The payment is same regardless of the number of hours in that range that you provide UPK services.  There MUST be a difference between UPK and other services provided for families (ie., wrap/enrichment/child care hours).  The UPK program regulations cannot require you to apply a UPK credit to non-UPK hours.


Total annual payment is based on what part of the state you provide services in.  The Half day (15 hour rate) or the full day rate (30 hour rate) is what you will receive for payment per child for the 2023-2024 school year.


When are you paid?

CDEC is paying based on enrollments.   They are 10 monthly payments from August-May.  The current pay schedule is as follows:


About Payments

The agreement you sign requires a minimum of 360 hours per school year.  Keep in mind this contract was first developed for 10 hours of UPK for each child.  10x36 -360 hours.  It's not written anywhere so far but to honor the best for families we encourage you to do the math!  

                                                              10x36=360 hours

                                                              15x36=540 hours

                                                              30x36=1,080 hours

Payments will be made in 10 monthly increments, August through May.  

Hold Harmless Payments for last year's Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) Providers are currently going to be paid out in January and May.  They are uncertain if they can move that up or not but are working on it.

How to apply the payment

When you receive your payments you will receive a payment summary that explains who you are being paid for.  We will be posting some supports on how to apply that to your books!

DO NOT just subtract the cost of UPK from the total cost of care for a family.  UPK only pays for the 10, 15, or 30 hours of  UPK.  Instead, figure out what your average hourly rate is and divide that by the number of hours a child attends.  Apply that rate.  The state intentionally built in some quality funds into the rate to support your program.  Do not undermine that support by doing the math wrong!


50 hours of care for $300/week equals $6/hour

UPK is 15 hours for the child so that leaves 35 hours for child care/wrap care/enrichment. 

35 x $6 = $210 a week child care tuition. 

We recommend that you show the total Cost and Credit for UPK broken down clearly for families to see.  Your full Payment amount that is being paid in your region would be used in the following example:

$6017.28/# weeks of UPK equals total weekly amount

****Please note that your agreement AND statute require a minimum of 360 hours of UPK.  If you divide that by 15 hours a week that gives you 24 weeks of UPK NOT 26 weeks like programs are historically used to through CPP.

****You CANNOT charge other families less than what you receive from the state for Private UPK rates if you have UPK enrolled families.  You CAN blend classrooms with private pay and UPK pay children.

NOTE:  This DOES provide the family a credit in the full amount that is provided for payment by the State.  Those funds apply ONLY to UPK hours.  During those hours you will be following licensing regulations and future UPK regulations and during non-UPK hours you will be following licensing regulations.  Your time will look different!  

There is some confusion with some LCO's where they perceive that the UPK amount has to be subtracted from the cost of their entire day long program.  That is incorrect.  In July the RAC and the Executive Director of CDEC removed that requirement from the regulations as it would create an systemic inequity between school district and community based programs.











Curriculum and Assessment Requirements

2023-2024 there is no specific  curriculum or assessment requirements.  Those are being developed and will be applied next year.  At that time your curriculum will have to be an approved curriculum to be utilized.  Currently there is no requirement for UPK teachers to have a BA but it is in statute that the State will work to move in that direction in the future.

ECEA has been told that it is allowable for you to blend private pay and UPK paid children in the same classroom.  If you need to decrease your UPK slots because of this, contact your LCO to make the adjustment in BridgeCare for you.  At ECEA we believe that is also accurate based on the paperwork you have signed to be an INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR with the State of Colorado.  Under independent contract work you have to meet the terms of your contract (program service agreement) as well as any industry regulations.  There is nothing in any of those documents that restricts your ability to mix a classroom with private pay and UPK students.  Furthermore, public schools and head start programs mix their classroom with other funding sources all of the time.  How could private pay possibly be different and still ensure mixed delivery!?!

Screenshot 2023-08-11 100008.jpg

Is there room in my part of the state to still become a UPK Provider?

The state anticipates 60% participation rates this year but some areas have a higher percentage of 4 year olds enrolled!  This chart should help you be able to decide if there is a capacity demand in your area.  Remember though, this is based on 100% participation rates!


These are the totals as of 7/26/23:


How Do I Become a UPK Provider?

To register to be a UPK Program, you will go to Licensed providers
can claim your accounts in the BridgeCare system. To claim this account you will need the email associated with your license. This is the same email you use to login to Provider Hub.

As you set up your profile, you need to be very specific, as this is the information you use to communicate to parents your program requirements.  Your Local Coordinating Organization (LCO) will send you a Service Agreement to digitally sign.  It looks like this: 

You will also need to meet the criteria listed in Exhibit A and Exhibit B.  Make sure you click on the top link on the page if you are a community based provider, or on the bottom link if you are a school district based program.

You can find your Local Coordinating Organization (LCO) here:


Here is where you can find the State UPK website: 

Families can find details on signing up here:

How UPK is Funded


Let's Do the Math....
If every 4 year old were in UPK....

State reports there are 64,000 4 year olds
Average cost for 15 hours: $6,020.00

64,000 x 6,020=$385,280,000


So even with Prop ii is approved and the state is able to retain $23.65 Million, that would put general education funding availability at:

                    $325M+23.65m = $348,665M funding

                    for the first 15 hours of UPK for every

                    4 year old statewide. 

That means the state is still short at least $36.62M IF prop ii passes.  

Perhaps that provides us with some insight as to why the State has been utilizing a matching process and a math algorithm to assign children to their "best fit preschool" instead of trusting families to enroll directly with the program of their choosing.  That's what the state is calling it, "their best fit preschool".  Families, we hope you agree.

What about if it were still just 10 hours?

64,000 x 4,834 = $309.376,000

The answer is simple!  The State could then afford UPK for ALL 4 year olds statewide at 10 hours per child.  Of course, we don't know how much the added infrastructure costs (LCO funding, CDEC staffing to support UPK, etc.)  It is compelling though because it get's the program to where it can support universal access!  That's one of the 3 basic tenets of Prop EE:

   1) Honor Parent Choice

   2) Ensure mixed delivery (variety of providers)

   3) Universal access for ALL families


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